The exhibition reflects a curatorial exploration that began two years ago with a 20-hour road trip in July 2018 to Jequitinhonha in the heart of Minas Gerais to visit the studio of painter and sculptor Leandro Júnior as well as an afternoon visiting the Quilombo de Cuba where he was a volunteer art teacher one day a week with the youth of the quilombo. It’s a region with a deep connection with Brazilian history. This is the site of the original Portuguese mining operations that were fuelled by countless generations of enslaved Africans. A profound fascination with the region has led to explorations of artists who address themes of the sertão as well as reading about the region, including one of the most famous works of Brazilian literature, João Guimaraes Rosa’s landmark 1956 novel Grande Sertão: Veredas, which draws its strength from a place of raw beauty, a land of a proud and diverse people with a complex history. Simon Watson signs the curatorship.
The artists of “Terra” are installed in a left-to-right, day-to-night thematic sweep along Central Galeria’s three main walls: morning is represented by Lidia Lisboa’s “cupinzeiro” referenced video, drawings and sculptures; day is represented by a series of Leandro Junior’s “Back” portrait paintings, each of whom is silhouetted in a blue sky; and night is referenced in João Trevisan’s sensual, black paintings and nighttime performance video that ends with a upended, wooden railway sleeper on fire.
Night is chronicled on the third and final wall of the exhibition by artist João Trevisan in a series of paintings, a performance video and a robust, multi-part sculpture made from railroad ties and iron hinges. His newest series of seven “Intervalo” paintings have a nocturne-like meditational quality and a rich black that seem to allude to deep space. In a an essay published earlier in the year titled “O Ritmo Da Noite” [The Rhythm of the Night] by Ulisses Carrilho, the Rio de Janeiro based curator and critic reflected on Trevisan’s “Intervalo” paintings that for him reference a twilight of habit, repetition and rhythm. The exhibition concludes with a Trevisan video performance, a poetic reverie along a railroad track that ends in fire. For those of us with childhood memories of the distant sound of a train, it’s also about the far reaches of memory.